Goodbye, Hello

This is a repost blog.

Original posts by Kate at the Advice Smackdown on AlphaMom

The original question-writer’s words are reproduced here - to read Amy Storch’s advice, click through to the original link.

20 Sept 2013: Goodbye, Hello

Dear Amy,

Please, please feel free not to answer this question if it brings up too many sad (or too personal for the internet) memories.

So here’s the deal. I’ve been with my husband for coming-up to four years, we’ve lived together nearly all of that time and we’ve now been married for a few months. Babies have always been on the agenda at some point, and I always thought I’d like to get started before I was 30 (I’m 28). My husband is less driven to reproduce than I am, but he’s willing to dive into it with me and I think he’ll be an excellent father.

About two years ago my mum was diagnosed with cancer (is it ok if I’m not specific?). She’s had two rounds of chemo and a major operation, but small amounts have spread. She is being treated for that at the moment. We don’t know the exact prognosis (my mum doesn’t want to know and I respect that), but my understanding is that it’s likely terminal, but not imminently so.

My mother is my best friend. She is the one I call to tell my big things and my mundane things (along with my husband, obviously). We moved near to her around the same time she was diagnosed (a happy coincidence) and I see her more than I see most of my friends (who live in the next city over). We’ve always been incredibly close.

I’m sure you know all too well that having an ill parent seeps its way into every area of your life and decision making (Wedding planning was fun! Don’t ask me about whether we’re buying a house anytime soon).

Here’s the one I’m struggling with at the moment: Is starting to try for a baby while all of this is going on a terrible idea?

On the side for starting to try now, I am aware that there are no guarantees with the human body (whether it’s pregnancy or cancer) and starting to try now doesn’t mean that my mum will get to meet my baby, but I know that we’d both be thrilled by however much we were able to share, even if that was just the beginning of a pregnancy. My sibling and I aren’t close and my parents are separated, so the idea of starting our own family is pretty appealing right now, because I know that everything with my family of origin will change once my mum dies (eg. the family home will be gone and Christmas will look very different). I know it’s stupid, but I think I’d feel lost if I didn’t have a mother and I wasn’t someone’s mother (or on the road to that).

There’s also the fact that I feel pretty ready to start trying for a baby now, regardless of anything else. I’ve been baby crazy my whole life and I feel my life has finally caught up with that wish. Because we don’t know how long my mum will be around, the idea of waiting until she’s gone might mean it’s years before we tried AND my mum could have met my baby.

On the downside, sometimes I think the idea of giving my mum somebody else to love and say goodbye to is just a terrible plan and I should leave well enough alone. The idea of losing my mum while being an incredibly emotional new mother sounds like a really bad thing. I also worry that if I was pregnant / a new mother, I might not be able to give my mother all the attention, love and care that she deserves, or I might be so wrapped up in losing my mother / grieving, that I couldn’t give the baby everything it would need. A part of me thinks I just want to rush to the next big life stage because then it would feel like my mum had been around longer.

I know that trying to conceive doesn’t always lead to conception, and I think that terrifies me more than anything — learning we’re infertile at the same time as grieving just sounds like an awful, awful situation to be in.

One huge thing for me on the side of starting now: My mum had me at 40 and I never got to meet her mother, and it looks like my children won’t meet their grandmother either. I want to start my family when I’m a lot younger than my mother was so that hopefully there will be a grandmother in this family at some point.

My now-husband has been an incredible rock throughout my mum’s illness thus far and the whole thing has only convinced me more solidly of the fact that he is an incredible partner and I am so lucky to have him. I have been discussing this with him a lot (as well as giving the decision some space). Our current plan is that we will assess the situation at Christmas and we might start trying then, but we might not.

I feel like I’ve just splurged words at you. I guess I just wanted to know how it was being pregnant when your dad was ill and how his death affected Ike’s babyhood, and what you’d do differently in retrospect? (I am so, so sorry if those questions are insensitive, and please, please don’t answer if it would be too sad for you.)


Kate (not my real name, but I like it when posters have a name I can look for in the comments)

28 Nov 2013: Advice Smackdown UPDATE: On Timing a Pregnancy Around a Parent’s Illness

Hi Amy,

I hope you’re not reading this as it’s Thanksgiving but I just wanted to share a little update on my problem about baby timing and an ill parent. (“Goodbye, Hello“)

Well, what happened was I showed my husband my letter and your response, we both cried a lot, did the maternity pay maths and then decided to get started on the baby making plan.

One cycle later I got pregnant! It’s still really early days but now I’m actually pregnant, I feel 100 per cent sure that we do in fact want a baby right now, so getting started trying was definitely the right call.

Telling my mum will always be one of my very favourite memories. We found out the day before her birthday so I got to tell her on her birthday and, oh, her face! She started instantly crying and shrieking and was just so happy. It was a really great evening and nice to have some good news amid all the bad cancer news.

Of course, a few days later she was hospitalised for 10 days with an infection and that was pretty grim, but that’s just how life will be for a while I guess — happy/sad.

I know it’s early days for an update (I’d have loved to be able to wait until after the 12 week scan), but I wanted to update while the news is good (and even if we lost this baby, I think we’ve definitely reached resolution about whether we want one now or not).

Thanks so much for your wonderful advice.


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November 28, 2023